Italian court bars Emirates’ Milan-New York service

An administrative court in Italy has ordered Emirates to scrap the Milan Malpensa-New York Kennedy service that it launched in October 2013.

The TAR Lazio court last Thursday ruled on a suit from Italian airline trade association Assaereo, backed by Delta Air Lines, brought against the Italian Civil Aviation Authority for permitting the service.

The court ruled that fifth-freedom flights (service between two countries by a carrier that is not based in either the origin or destination country) from Italy are not permissible.

Emirates said it is considering whether to appeal, but Delta, which also flies Milan-JFK (as do Alitalia and American Airlines) welcomed the decision.

“The TAR Lazio decision makes it clear that UAE-based Emirates is not authorized to operate this nonstop service,” according to a Delta statement.

“The Emirates route provides no additional benefit for travelers who are already well-served by U.S. and Italian carriers between Milan and New York and could significantly harm U.S. and Italian airline employees by adding unnecessary capacity to an already competitive market.”

Average fares on the route have halved since Emirates launched its service, and the Dubai-based carrier has already gained the largest market share on the route, according to the Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation.

Based on the success of the service, Emirates has said it is considering launching more fifth-freedom flights across the Atlantic.

The court’s decision comes as Emirates’ local rival Etihad is engaged in advanced negotiations to buy a 49% stake in Alitalia.